Eagles rebuilding from loss of 11 seniors

Menominee Indian adds depth on lines

The loss of 11 seniors would put many teams in a bind, but the Menominee Indian football team sees many new players than can compete among the top half of the MONLPC-8 this fall.

Top athletes like Antonio Mahkimetas, Kyle Komanekin and Warren Kakwitch, along with the size of Leander Moon and Alenex Warrington, have paved the way for new playmakers in Meshaen Waukau, Jonathon Rojas and Jared Beauprey.

Head coach Chris Clache is looking forward to the added size and depth on the offensive and defensive lines, which includes Darius Wayka, an all-conference selection from a year ago, along with Hunter Connahvichnah, Sinte Nickey and Alonzo Haack.

“I think we’re three deep at every position on the line, and we’re not even three deep at running back,” Clache said. “Our line play is going to be our biggest key right now.”

Mahkimetas, the team’s leading running back last season, will be replaced by Waukau, who played last season, but in a more limited role.

After a summer of hard work, Clache is ready for him to break out.

“He worked his butt off for us all summer and made big strides,” Clache said. “I see him being a big part of our success this year.”

Clache, who said his past teams were built more for power, sees more speed in his units this fall despite the size on the line. In addition to Waukau, Rojas has gotten faster heading into his junior season.

The speed, which helps the team create more explosive plays in the eight-man game, can also help slow opponents.

“I feel we can do better at stopping the run on defense and running the ball better on offense,” Waukau said.

The beginning of the season, because of the youth, has gone slowly in Clache’s 16th year as the head coach.

“We’ve had to slow the learning process down a little bit, but they’ve caught on more as the last couple of weeks have gone on,” Clache said.

Although most of the competition will remain the same from last season in the Great-8 North, Menominee Indian’s schedule includes three new schools to the eight-man sport.

Wausaukee and Gillett both converted from 11-man to the eight-man game this season and will play in the MONLPC-8, while Newman Catholic is an independent team in the sport after making the transition this year.

Clache, whose team went 4-5 last year and 3-4 in the Great-8 North, knows NEW Lutheran and Sevastopol will remain atop the conference, but believes after five weeks of play in the conference, his young squad will be prepared for the powerhouses in weeks 6 and 8.

“Our goal is to by the time we get to those games, is to be with them, not just being on the field with them, but being able to compete with them,” Clache said. “But I do think we will win some games this year. I think we’ve got the team to do it.”